There’s always one artist at a music festival that disregards the fact that they’re not actually the headliner, but still put on the damn near best show of the day. At Pitchfork Music Festival’s 2017 installment, that set was without a doubt punk-rocker Jeff Rosenstock. Rosenstock’s performance was just as electrifying as the headliner of the day, A Tribe Called Quest. Although I was not introduced to Jeff’s music post-Bomb The Music Business until 2016 with his third solo album Worry, I was looking forward to his set.
Olivia Ladd and I had the privilege of speaking with Rosenstock the day before he performed at Pitchfork Music Festival. I was happy to discover that he is just as down-to-earth as you would hope. When artists reach a certain level in their career, it often seems like they become elevated and are stripped of their personable traits that connect them with the rest of us. With Worry being such a critically acclaimed album that topped many end-of-the-year lists and college radio charts, I feared the same could have happened to Rosenstock.
Instead of scoffing and blowing off two college kids (who clearly had less experience than representatives of other nationally recognized publications and media outlets), he immediately started venting his frustration in finding a venue in the Nashville area that would harbor an all ages show. This is definitely an issue that I feel strongly about (I’d only been of the legal drinking age for a little over a month at this point and had to miss shows because of age restrictions), but I honestly did not expect to hear artists airing the same concerns . “I just want to play a show that’s all ages,” coming from Rosenstock was just heartwarming to hear. We all want our favorite artists care as much about us as fans as we do about them as artists. This absolutely solidified the “Good-Guy-Jeff” mental-image I had made for Rosenstock.
Rosenstock made me feel comfortable. He spoke with a demeanor that made it seem like we were best friends as we discussed his favorite ska bands (The Specials, Jimmy Cliff, Operation Ivy, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Show Gherkin, Blue Meanies), getting kicked out of a house show in Murfreesboro (a house show venue that was situated near Sir Pizza on E. Main Street, he recalls). This made his set all the better. He joked during breaks in the music, led several waves throughout the crowd, and casually tossed a piñata of Donald J. Trump into the crowd for the audience to do with as they pleased. I couldn’t help but smile when he let everyone know that the band was being paid $7,500 to play the festival (he apparently had no clue until arriving at the festival).
The humbling thing about Rosenstock is that he doesn’t know just how charismatic he actually is. He made the crowd relate to him as an individual and a friend. It seemed like we were all there to celebrate a friend who’s just struck it big time and been given seven-grand to perform their first music festival. Sure, we’re happy that music critics are opening up to Rosenstock’s music, but really we couldn’t be more proud of how he’s progressed as a lovable and down-to-earth guy in the music industry. Hopefully Nashville gets the right idea soon and books an all-ages show for my friend Jeff.